Italian drug squad seize altitude device after hotel raid

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Rossano Veneto

Following a request from the Nas (Nucleo Anti-Stupefacente) Carabineri brigade of Firenze, the Nas Carabineri of Padova raided the Hotel Canova in Sandrigo of the Davitamon-Lotto and Saunier Duval-Prodir teams. The search warrants came from the prosecutor of Vicenza, Paolo Pecori, and the raid and hotel search took three hours between 4-7pm. From the Davitamon-Lotto team, an Alti Trainer was seized and the team doctor Daniel De Neve was brought to the Padova Nas Carabineri headquarters for further interrogation.

Although hypoxic devices are not prohibited under UCI or WADA rules, they are illegal under Italian law 376, an arcane rule that prohibits use of any method to increase blood values for sport competition. When asked about the Alti Trainer at the post-race press conference today in Rossano Veneto, McEwen said, "I don't know anything about this...I don't use it, but some of my teammates do. It's a machine that simulates the effect of altitude."

No word yet whether the use of this device will have any further consequences for Davitamon-Lotto, but team director Frison thought that the entire raid was "ridiculous". But RCS Event Director Angelo Zomegnan was not jumping to any conclusion on the affair, explaining that "We've only heard about this raid from the media and the hypobaric tent was seized. Under international rules, this is not illegal, but Italian law, it is illegal."

The Nas room raiders also took two evidence bags of medicine flasks from their search of Saunier Duval-Prodir's rooms. "They took some flasks of sugar's all product that we have declared. However, we are fed up with these kinds of moves (by Nas) and tomorrow morning, team directors and doctors will meet to see how we can stand up to this," explained Saunier Duval-Prodir's team director Pietro Algeri. Their team doctor Maria Sagasti was also taken to the Padova Nas barracks for further interrogation.

A further determination of the situation will undoubtedly evolve as Giro d'Italia management looks deeper into the raid and the conclusions of the Nas investigation.

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